Saturday, September 20, 2014

No matter how they change her, I’ll remember her that way

In four remarkable posts, the lovely Vagabonde (who lives only a few miles from me over in Marietta) has described the liberation of Paris in August 1944 through the eyes of one who was there -- herself. She was four years old at the time.

You may be amazed at what you read and see.

Recollection: The Liberation of Paris in August 1944 (part 1)
(posted August 24, 2014)

Recollection: The Liberation of Paris in August 1944 (part 2)
(posted September 1, 2014)

Recollection: The Liberation of Paris in August 1944 (part 3)
(posted September 9, 2014)

Recollection: The Liberation of Paris in August 1944 (final part)
(posted September 16, 2014)

You should take the time to read all four posts. You may learn a few things you never knew.

In other news, our firstborn turns 50 years of age today. When he was born, disposable diapers did not exist. They were not invented until our third child came along. All diapers were cloth, which necessitated the buying of a plastic lidded diaper pail to keep soiled diapers in until we could wash them and hang them out to dry and collect them from the line and fold them into neat stacks. What I'm trying to say, and not doing a very good job of it, is simply this: No matter how we changed him, we’ll remember him that way.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Question of the day, or You take the high road and I’ll take the low road and I’ll be in Washington D.C. afore ye

Is it “a bra brit moonlit nit to-nit” or is it “a bra Brit moonlit nit to-nit”?

I trust that you see the difference.

The vote regarding Scottish independence yesterday was 44.7% YES, 55.3% NO. Just for comparison, here are the percentages of the popular vote candidates received in recent U.S. presidential elections:

1980 - Jimmy Carter 41%, Ronald Reagan 50.8% (third-party candidate John Anderson 6.6%)

1984 - Walter Mondale 40.6%, Ronald Reagan 58.8%

1988 - Michael Dukakis 45.7%, George H.W. Bush 53.4%

1992 - George H.W. Bush 37.5%, Bill Clinton 43% (third-party candidate Ross Perot 18.8%)

1996 - Bob Dole 40.7%, Bill Clinton 49.2% (third-party candidate Ross Perot 8.4%)

2000 - Al Gore 48.4%, George W. Bush 47.9%

2004 - John Kerry 48.3%, George W. Bush 50.7%

2008 - John McCain 45.7%, Barack Obama 52.9%

2012 - Mitt Romney 47.2%, Barack Obama 51.1%

In other words, yesterday’s Scottish Referendum resembled most closely the 1988 and 2008 American presidential elections, when George H.W. Bush defeated Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis 53.4% to 45.7% (1988) and Illinois Senator Barack Obama defeated Arizona Senator John McCain 52.9% to 45.7% (2008).

Of course, in the U.S. the popular vote is only the first step. The electoral college determines who actually won the election, except in years when the U.S. Supreme Court determines who won the election. So far there has been only one of the latter.

If the Scots had had a third choice (besides YES and NO) as Americans did in the candidacies of John Anderson and Ross Perot, what would that third choice have been? That is, how would the ballot have looked?

1. YES
2. NO
3. __?__

I look forward to your responses.

While you’re thinking about your answer, here is Deanna Durbin singing “Loch Lomond” from the 1940 film It’s A Date (3:09).

Monday, September 15, 2014

On this occasion of Prince Harry’s 30th birthday

...yahoo.com is breathlessly reporting to the world that Prince Harry is not his real name.

If you’re not shocked, I suppose yahoo.com thinks you should be.

Harry’s real name is Henry Charles Albert David.

Here endeth the reading from yahoo.com -- the remainder of this post is of my own making.

Eight kings of England were named Henry and two were named Charles, but they were not part of the House of Windsor-Mountbatten neé Windsor neé Saxe-Coburg-Gotha neé Hanover.

However, Charles (the current Prince of Wales, whose full name is Charles Philip Arthur George) is Harry’s father; Albert was (a) what the family called King George VI (Harry’s great-grandfather) and (b) Queen Victoria’s husband (Harry's great-great-great-great grandfather) ; and David was what the family called King Edward VIII (Harry’s great-great uncle) .

[Editor’s note. Whoopi Goldberg’s family called her Karen, but that fact has nothing to do with this post. --RWP]

On this auspicious occasion, I thought I would share with you the full names of several current and former members of the British royal family.

Prince William (the Duke of Cambridge) is William Arthur Philip Louis. His little son, thanks to Kate Middleton, is George Alexander Louis.

William’s and Harry’s father’s siblings are Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise (the Princess Royal) , Andrew Albert Christian Edward (the Duke of York) , and Edward Antony Richard Louis (the Earl of Wessex).

Isn't this fun???

William’s and Harry’s grandmama, Queen Elizabeth II, is Elizabeth Alexandra Mary.

George VI was Albert Frederick Arthur George.

Edward VIII was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.

George V was George Frederick Ernest Albert. His wife (Queen Mary) was Victoria Mary Augusta Louise Olga Pauline Claudine Agnes.

Edward VII was Albert Edward. His wife (Queen Alexandra) was Alexandra Caroline Marie Charlotte Louise Julia.

Queen Victoria was Alexandrina Victoria. Her husband (Prince Albert) was Francis Albert Augustus Charles Emmanuel.

I find all of this utterly fascinating.

And now for the big finish, the pièce de résistance, the sine qua non.

William’s and Harry’s grandpapa, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip is -- wait for it -- Philip.

All of this must mean something, but I’ll be darned if I know what.

Carry on, monarchists.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dinosaurs of the world, unite

One way to tell you’re becoming a dinosaur is when changes occur in the language and you do not keep pace with them. In fact, mes amies, you are downright determined to keep to the old (translation: correct) ways.

Dinosaurs, as we all know, eventually become extinct and no trace of them is left on planet Earth except the occasional fossil found by an enterprising paleontologist.

Which reminds me that my daughter reported this conversation with her 13-year-old son the other day on the drive home from school:

“Mama,” said the 13-year-old, “is it possible to know when a pterodactyl goes to the bathroom?”

“I have no idea,” my daughter said. “Is it?”

He replied, “No, ma’am...because the P is silent.”

Which proves that although language may change, 13-year-old boys never do.

However, language changes so slowly that no one notices what is happening until suddenly no one speaks Anglo-Saxon any more. Except J.R.R. Tolkien, of course, and he is dead.

My current pet peeve (and I hope it is occurring just in America and not throughout the entire English-speaking world) has to do with the past tense of the verb (or rather, the infinitive) to sneak.

Forty years ago the dictionary said the past tense of sneak is “sneaked”.

Twenty-five years ago the dictionary said the past tense of sneak is “sneaked non-standard snuck”.

Ten years ago the the dictionary said the past tense of sneak is “sneaked informal snuck”.

Today, dictionary.com says the past tense of sneak is “sneaked or snuck”.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

At one time, correct word usage was determined by what educated people said. Nowadays, you don’t have to be educated. Anything goes.

I for one will never say snuck. Accordingly, I will soon be extinct myself.

One more thing: Despite what millions of Americans say every single day, drug is not the past tense of drag.

It’s dragged, people. Dragged.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Changes

What’s better than an old Queen-sized bed?

A brand-new Queen-sized bed, of course!

And what’s even better than a brand-new Queen-sized bed?

I’ll tell you what is even better than a brand-new Queen-sized bed.

A brand-new King-sized bed, that’s what.

So we had one delivered yesterday!

The only problem is that in addition to buying a brand-new King-sized bed we also had to buy a brand-new King-sized mattress and a brand-new King-sized mattress cover and brand-new King-sized sheets and pillow cases and a brand-new King-sized bedspread with multiple matching and contrasting pillows, and brand-new matching curtains and valences as well.

Here is the new bed (the curtains had not yet been put up) :


As a result, I am currently suffering from that old Italian disease, mafunzalo. If I wanted to go somewhere on an exotic vacation like, say, the Canary Islands, I would have to swim to get there.

When your funzalo, remember what Dolly Levi’s suitor, Horace Van Der Gelder, said in Hello, Dolly!: “Money is like manure; it doesn’t do any good unless you spread it around.”

[Editor’s note. Dolly’s late husband, Ephraim Levi, also used to say that very thing, and when Horace said it, Dolly knew it was a sign that they should marry (Horace and Dolly I mean, not Horace and Ephraim) . But I digress. --RWP]

In other news, the eldest of our six grandchildren left last week for his first year in college about an hour and a half from home. He will be followed in each of the next five years, not necessarily to the same college, by our remaining grandchildren until, finally, in 2020, there will be no more grandchildren of ours leaving for college.

Mrs. RWP has decided to observe this great migration by crocheting one afghan a year using the new school colors of each grandchild. She is about halfway through the first one at present. Here is a close-up view of the left half of the work in progress (the right half is a mirror image of the left half) :


As Rosanne Rosannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live, “It’s always something.”


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Somewhere, Edward Gibbon is making notes

JEFFERSON (1776): We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

LINCOLN (1863): It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

FDR (1933): The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

JFK (1961): Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

REAGAN (1981): In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.

REAGAN (1987): Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

CLINTON (1998): I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

OBAMA (2014): I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Inquiring minds want to know: How green was my valley?

Thanks to (a) John F. Kemeny, the 35th President of the U.S.A., (b) Yorkshire Pudding, the most pixilated pixie ever, (c) the wonderful internet, and (d) the comments section of my last post, I have now been made aware of the Brague National Park in the Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France. I already knew about the Brague winery and the Brague River, but to learn of a national park is, how do you say, an extra added bonus (an uber-redundancy if there ever was one) .

And not only that, I have also just learned that the Brague River includes the Brague Valley River Walk. Take time to read the charming description of its loveliness by someone whose first language was definitely not English. If you ever go there, remember to “walk downhill progressively until the river of which the path goes along the left edge of the river” and to “enjoy numerous landscapes and cool areas” and to ”follow the way, passby the House of the nature. Take left the track, and the road which leads to Valbonne by the Graveyard”.

Leaving aside the fact that anywhere Yorkshire Pudding is would be, by definition, a cool area, I think one should always walk uphill conservatively and downhill progressively. Unless it’s the other way round. I can never keep that straight.

I am also confused as to whether it is “Feed a cold, starve a fever” or “Starve a cold, feed a fever” and I would appreciate any help I can get from you wonderful people out there in the dark a reliable source.

Because a lot of what you can find on the internet isn’t true, especially if it’s in Wikipedia.

Most of all, I think Yorkshire Pudding should print down a copy of the directions for the Brague Valley River Walk (9.8km, 3 hrs) and hie himself, camera in tow, off to that particular Gallic hinterland, and then publish a blogpost that would highlight for all of us some of those numerous landscapes and cool areas.

Don’t you agree?